Tuesday, November 9, 2010
I interviewed Madeline Deheza Hoefer, a seasoned New York restaurant and hotel manager, now partnering with her husband Werner in the opening (November 20, 2010) of a new Philadelphia coffeehouse/eatery in the Art Museum area called The Flying Saucer Cafe (26th & Brown St). She's also a big film buff, heading to Sundance again this year, and together with a friend started a weekly Philly Film Club. She and I had a great chat about film and food...
You know you've hit if off with someone when early on in the conversation they feel comfortable saying: "Have you ever seen that film... it's got a funny name... one word... a man and woman meet, both married, she insists they never identify themselves, they begin meeting regularly and they have the most amazing sex! It just blows your mind, it's incredibly explicit! It's brilliant, Catherine Breillat ("porno auteuriste" (Fat Girl)) brilliant, like her film Romance, that has the greatest female sex fantasy scene every made anywhere, unbelievable! "
My response being, "Can you get it on Netflix!?" and so a discussion that was to be about food in film turned into sex in film, it's the same to me as I see good food as wildly erotic, decadent, irresistible and so satisfying.
Which is why I'm looking forward to going back to The Flying Saucer Cafe upon its opening to indulge in homemade goodies, cream soups and organic flavored peanut butter sandwiches and cookies (toffee, vanilla, chocolate cherry and white chocolate coconut) good and healthy as the peanut butters also contain ground flax seed and ground hemp seed. The sandwiches will be served on old-fashioned dense breads - pumpernickel sweetened with molasses, brioche & honey wheat. Freshly delivered by Wild Flour Bakery (North East Philly) organic bakers that use King Arthur Flour in their recipes . Flying Saucer will allow patrons to mix and match their toast. The bagels will come from a two man, little bakery called Caplan Artisan Bagels (Roxborough) and Madeline plans to offer a New York smear of cream cheese (variety of choices also homemade from Caplan) at no extra charge.
Other celestial offerings include: loaf breads such as, apple banana, zucchini carrot and carrot cake with cream cheese icing on top and layered in between; croissants and individual mini fruit pies. Traveling Hat Bakery and Tea Room (South Philly) will provide Candied Orange Lavender Biscuits (served warm) and cupcakes. Madeline described one coconut cupcake with dark chocolate icing, that will haunt me until I can get my hands on it and try it for myself.
For more hearty eats they'll be homemade flavored hummus, small savory tapas plates, offerings like root vegetable soup, chili, corn chowder, tuna fish, white fish salad, chicken salad. Not everything will be offered all the time. The menu, presented on a flat screen TV for easy updates and changes via PowerPoint, will rotate and be very seasonal. As you can see the emphasis is on using local vendors that specialize in either organic or natural products.
They plan to carry 18 teas from Premium Steap Teas (Center City), including one now being made exclusively for Flying Saucer, a double Bergamot Earl Grey, very fragrant, very flavorful.
Perfect wintry warm up -all natural imported Dutched Cocoa, 3 flavors to start (Antique Caoba Dutched, Colonial Rosewood Natural, Grand Guayacan Dutched - extra dark) if they catch on, the plan is to offer more flavors with flights of cocoa for sampling.
Of course a cafe is nothing without coffee, One Village (Souderton PA) will be the supplier, and Maple Thorpe Farms (Co-operative of Amish Farmers) for all dairy products.
The name, Flying Saucer doesn't have a lot of significance, although outer space decor accents are reflective; along with out of this world beverage names:
Nova Espresso — 1 shot / Coffee
Supernova Espresso — 2 shots / Coffee
Hypernova Espresso — 3 shots / Coffee
Milky Way Steamed Milk / Syrup — any flavor
Galaxy Espresso / Steamed Milk / Cocoa / White Cocoa
Solar Eclipse Espresso / Steamed Milk / Cocoa / Coconut Syrup
UFO Espresso / Steamed Milk / White Cocoa/ Vanilla Syrup/ Coconut Syrup
Madeline said they retained the name from the previous owner, but nothing else remains of that establishment. The place was almost completely gutted. New ceilings, floors, equipment, shelves, seating. It's difficult to see from the pictures, but the detail work, the high backed bamboo wood banquette, the entire layout, design and concept is all done by very skilled hands. She could have knocked me over with a feather when she told me it was all done by her long time friend Bill, who runs the AV department at a local University. I said, "you don't mean Bill Horton?" She said, "Yes, do you know Bill?" And I do! Bill does a lot of stuff, technical production, web design, projectionist... but I had no idea he was also a skilled contractor! Philly is such a small town.
Cafe hours will be 7-7pm. I asked about free WiFi and they've decided at least in the beginning not to offer it. As someone who often likes to blog away from home at coffee shops, I was disappointed at first; but I do understand that laptop users can take advantage of small cafes, sitting for hours on one cup of coffee, spreading out so there's not enough places for others to sit; making patrons who wish to hold conversations feel self-conscious about making too much noise. Madeline and Werner want a family friendly, community type hangout, that's not to say they'll be a no laptop sign on the door.
I wanted to be sure to end the interview on a film note, so I asked her to name her favorite Alien feature. I was expecting: Alien, Cocoon, Close Encounters, Men in Black.... but I loved her answer, a B flick called The Crawling Eye. It takes place in the Swiss Alps where mountain climbers, skiers and yodelers from the resort are decapitated by big bloodshot eyeball aliens on tentacles. Perhaps Bill can create a mechanical version as a mascot for the cafe.